HOspitals and patients WoRking in Unity (HOW R U?): Protocol for a prospective feasibility study of telephone peer support to improve older patients' quality of life after emergency department discharge

Judy A. Lowthian, Alyse Lennox, Andrea Curtis, Jeremy Dale, Colette Browning, De Villiers Smit, Gillian Wilson, Debra O'Brien, Cate Rosewarne, Lee Boyd, Cath Garner, Peter Cameron

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Older people presenting to an emergency department (ED) have a higher likelihood of social isolation, loneliness and depression; which are all associated with negative health outcomes and increased health service use, including higher rates of ED attendance. The HOW R U? study aims to ascertain the feasibility and acceptability of a postdischarge telephone support programme for older ED patients following discharge. The intervention, which aims to improve quality of life, will be delivered by hospitalbased volunteers. Methods and analysis: A multicentre prospective uncontrolled feasibility study will enrol 50 communitydwelling patients aged ≥70 years with symptoms of loneliness or depression who are discharged home within 72 hours from the ED or acute medical ward. Participants will receive weekly supportive telephone calls over a 3-month period from a volunteerpeer. Feasibility will be assessed in terms of recruitment, acceptability of the intervention to participants and level of retention in the programme. Changes in level of loneliness (UCLA-3 item Loneliness Scale), mood (Geriatric Depression Scale-5 item) and health-related quality of life (EQ-5D-5L and EQVAS) will also be measured postintervention (3 months). Ethics and dissemination: Research ethics and governance committee approval has been granted for this study by each participating centre (reference: 432/15 and 12-09-11-15). Study findings will inform the design and conduct of a future multicentre randomised controlled trial of a postdischarge volunteer-peer telephone support programme to improve social isolation, loneliness or depressive symptoms in older patients. Results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journal publication, and conference and seminar presentation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere013179
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

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